Additionally, organizations that are more proactive in their approach to consumerism rate patient satisfaction as more important than organizations that define their approach as more reactive to patient demands or the market environment.
At Privia Health, a national physician organization with more than 2,500 providers in multiple states, prioritizing patients’ needs keeps consumerism strategy focused on initiatives that matter most. For the past five years, Privia has won the HFMA MAP Award for excellence in revenue cycle performance.
“Our patient engagement road map focuses on several aspects of the patient-provider relationship,” said Jen Porter, vice president, marketing, communications and patient experience for Privia Health. “Patients share feedback through a number of venues, including online reviews and our patient satisfaction survey. We value their feedback, and we leverage this actionable insight to streamline our efforts to meet patients where they are — and where they are is often online and on the go.”
To develop a trusted relationship with patients, Privia Health focuses on eliminating points of potential friction to elevate the patient experience. The organization also seeks opportunities to engage teams and use technology to help patients.
“Privia provides resources to keep patients connected to their healthcare teams,” Porter said. “Our proprietary technology enables patients to message their doctors, schedule appointments, pay bills, see lab results, refill prescriptions and receive reminders about important health screenings.”
Also important during the coronavirus pandemic: addressing consumers’ safety fears, especially at a time when 72% of consumers have changed their use of healthcare services due to the outbreak.c “Consumers want to know, ‘What are you doing to help keep me safe?’” Porter said. “We make sure they understand how many processes are in place to help protect their health.”
3. Patient involvement in setting the organization's consumerism strategy
The degree to which healthcare organizations understand what patients want and use this insight to inform consumerism strategies is a key contributor to success. So is the extent to which organizations value patient access to information, patient satisfaction and hands-on, personal relationships, the HFMA/CareCredit survey found.
At Ochsner Health, the health system’s Patient & Family Advisory Board shares firsthand input with leaders into ways the organization could better meet the needs of families, such as through new services, support mechanisms, and robust partnerships between families and healthcare professionals. The board also offers suggestions for creative, cost-effective solutions to challenges faced by the health system, as well as ways to promote awareness of Ochsner’s services. Meetings take place at locations throughout the system.
“We’re a big system, so we’re not able to implement new consumerism initiatives as quickly as a smaller system,” Cardwell said. “That’s one reason why we’re very intentional in our approach to developing a consumer-centric experience. We gather feedback from patients as well as core groups throughout the system to improve the patient experience, and we use patient experience coaches to help refine interactions patients have with our system and our staff.
“For example, our region was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and a lot of our economies — from tourism to the restaurant service industry — were shut down. The first thing we did was to turn off our collection dialers so that patients weren’t receiving calls about outstanding balances at a time when they were facing extreme financial distress,” Cardwell said. “We continued to send statements, so patients would know the amount they owed, but they would also know: ‘We understand the situation you’re facing, and we’re going to give you extra time to pay for your care.’”
Creating a patient advisory council also is a 2020 strategy for Privia Health — and it’s one the organization was able to accomplish in spite of the challenges of the pandemic. “We already have 2,000 patients who have volunteered to be part of this group,” Porter said. “We’re very proud of our ability to keep this going, even during the pandemic.
“When you think about healthcare consumerism, it is critical that healthcare continue embracing opportunities to create a seamless experience for patients and their families,” Porter said. “Patient input is vital to designing a patient-centric consumerism model.”
Consumerism in the age of coronavirus (COVID-19)
The coronavirus pandemic made a deep impact on consumer finances, with 5.4 million Americans losing their health insurance due to job losses during the pandemic — more than have ever lost insurance in a single year.d Here are three ways healthcare organizations can help strengthen their relationships with patients during the pandemic.
Take a more proactive approach to financial engagement. With cost concerns prompting many consumers to avoid seeking care, hospitals should consider proactively helping consumers understand not only their out-of-pocket costs of care, but also their options for payment. Offering payment options that allow patients to pay over time could be key to helping them move forward with the care they want and need.
Make sure payment policies reflect empathy for your patients. Consider delaying collection calls during the height of a coronavirus surge in your market, and provide the tools and training staff need to offer the right support for patients at the right time. Double down on efforts to contact patients through their preferred communication channels, stressing the desire to work with them in establishing financial arrangements that meet their needs, such as financing or payment options.
Strengthen remote workforce efficiency. As more revenue cycle work shifts to a remote work environment, assess where opportunities exist to improve efficiency, such as by automating specific tasks, like eligibility checks, and hiring a vendor to handle paper-heavy processes, such as payment processing.
a HFMA, “Understanding the approach to successful healthcare consumerism initiatives,” November 2020.
b Milani, R.V., MD, et al., “Reducing Hospital Toxicity: Impact on Patient Outcomes,” The American Journal of Medicine, May 2, 2018.
c “COVID-19 Shifts Consumer Behavior, Attitudes Toward Health Care Services,” Alliance of Community Health Plans, press release, May 21, 2020.
d Stolberg, S.G., “Millions Have Lost Health Insurance in Pandemic-Driven Recession,” The New York Times, July 13, 2020.